Get the ball rolling: How to modernise your finance function

Get the ball rolling: How to modernise your finance function

In this age of digital workplaces and hunger for data to drive planning, the classic finance function is under pressure. Unless it embraces technology, it can’t be a true partner to the business it supports.

The finance function increasingly needs to provide instant, accurate data to drive strategic decisions within the organisation. It’s even being called upon, more and more, to be at the forefront of delivering the roadmap for organisational strategy, based on speculative data input and forecasting.

To deliver these insights, you need to modernise your finance function as soon as possible.

But, where to start?

You know you’ll need the right people on board, but first you’ll need something to show them. Your own modernisation plan.

It’s tempting to dive in head-first, but we believe for the transformation to be successful and prove itself worth the cost and effort, considered judgement is essential.

Modern technology in this context is a tool, not a result, and any solution that will help to achieve your business goals requires time, care and buy-in.

Here are the first four steps we follow with every finance function modernisation

Number 1: Ensure the solution supports the needs of your business

Any path towards modernising your finance function should also lead toward your business goals. Don’t go into it without clear aims in mind, and make sure you communicate those aims to the team designing the solution. This also means that you shouldn’t over-complicate things – trim the fat, if that fat is not taking you to where you want to be.

Ian Mitchell, Regional Head of Planning and Controlling – Asia Pacific from Allianz Worldwide Partners, a Bistech client, had this to say about the process:

“Start thinking early on about what the output needs to look like. For example, I knew that I needed to report at a really consolidated level, I also knew that I needed more at a local level.”

Number 2: Take the time to get it right without stalling your project

Get your ducks in a row before you start the financial function modernisation ball rolling. This includes careful thought about your business goals, as outlined above, but also input from anyone who will be affected by changes to make sure everyone in onboard. Also, consider speaking to anyone in the organisation who is in a position to offer insights.

Talk to the finance team, members of other teams who deal with the finance team, and of course any Financial Performance Management partner you have chosen.

“Measure twice, cut once,” the builders say, and it applies here too.

Number 3: Have a strategy in place to manage the changes as they happen

Even good, positive change can be disruptive.

To make sure everyone involved is happy and on board, it’s a good idea to have a solid plan for rolling out updates and new systems. Do it carefully and take your time. Your human resources – the most important ones of all – will thank you.

Greg Affleck from ALS, another Bistech client, said, “from a human capital side of things, the way we rolled out the consolidation was methodically, entity by entity, not through one big bang. This worked well for us – we rolled it out over 12 months.”

Number 4: Get the leadership team on the bandwagon

It’s vital to have all the key people involved ready to support the changes you want to implement. If your leaders are not on board, then it’s unlikely you’ll get everybody else there!

Engage them in your vision – this might mean training on new systems and applications, or workshops on the benefits of modernisation and how it will improve business process and impact the bottom line. The leaders are the ones who will drive change, so they should be front and centre in communicating it to the wider organisation.

Why take the plunge?

Financial function modernisation is a long and winding path. It might seem overwhelming to start, but it’s worth the journey.

The benefits include:

Better data – a highly valuable resource which will truly give your company a competitive edge. Streamlined reporting and data collection will make it easy to turn information into strategic insights, providing a solid base for future planning.

Accessibility of data – key people will have access to information to enable them to make sound decisions. Increased visibility and more eyes on the task will also help spot inconsistencies before they have a wider impact.

Better efficiency and reliability – improve staff satisfaction and performance through smoother workflow and systems.

All in all, a modernised finance function will garner great results in many areas of your organisation.

With the right partner, it can be easy.

Bistech’s Headstart solution is the simplest and most effective way to modernise. We have partnered with many businesses to improve and modernise their finance functions with stellar results.

Our team of consultants are all CPAs and accountants (not techies!). So we’re experienced in guiding companies of all kinds to achieve quality finance systems through tried-and-tested technology and solutions.

Read our state-of-play report into the finance function modernisation at three Australian blue-chip clients for a more thorough look at the best way to go about finance modernisation.

Or, get in touch to talk about our FPM Headstart solution.